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Can You Spot the Clue?

The first step when facing a sentence completion–whether it be difficult or straightforward–is to look for the signpost. We find the signpost in the sentence itself by looking for a word or words that tells us what the word in the blank should be. What we should not do is read the sentence and go directly to the answers. Instead, look for the signpost, come up with you own word for the blank and then match your word with the answer choices.

So let’s look at the sentence completion from the last post.

Once spurned by the scientific community, Wegener’s tectonic plate theory has gathered an almost —- following in many circles, yet such an unquestioning embrace could very well lead to the —- of an otherwise valid hypothesis.

(A) triumphant…confounding

(B) unstoppable…rebuttal

(C) equitable…attrition

(D) idolatrous…corruption

(E) ecclesiastical…repudiation

Notice this sentence has two blanks. We want to deal with one blank at a time– if we can eliminate one blank in an answer choice, we can eliminate the entire answer.

In this sentence, “unquestioning embrace” is the signpost that tells us about the first blank. (When you are first starting off, you should underline the signpost.) Next come up with a word for unquestioning embrace, or simply match “unquestioning embrace” with the words in the first blank. The only word that is a synonym for unquestioning embrace is “idolatrous.”

Just like that, we’ve solved the sentence completion. Had we not followed this method and had instead gone directly to the answer choices, we may have found ourselves plugging in words that could work for the second blank. Not only would this method have taken longer, but we would have also based our choice on the way the plugged in word would have sounded in the blank. Remember, always look for the signpost first–it leads the way to the answer,

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